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Estonian prime minister Juri Ratas to resign, spokeswoman says

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VILNIUS, Jan 13 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Juri Ratas of European Union member Estonia announced his intention to resign early on Wednesday, his spokeswoman said, in the wake of an inquiry into a property development project in the capital.

Ratas went to Estonia’s president on Wednesday morning to present his resignation, news wire BNS reported. The spokeswoman, Liisi Poll, said the president will have the task of proposing the next leader of government to the parliament.

BNS said Ratas’ party was declared suspect on Tuesday in a criminal investigation over the financing of a property development project in Tallinn.

“While there definitely are other ways to go about it, only one of them seemed to be right,” Ratas, who denies any knowledge of the financing, told reporters, according to BNS.

He took the decision after a party meeting on Tuesday to discuss the charges, which dragged into the early hours of Wednesday, BNS added.

Ratas, prime minister since late 2016, lost the 2019 general election, in which the center-right Reform Party emerged as the largest party.

He then blocked the winner from taking power by forming a surprise coalition of his left-leaning Centre, the conservative Fatherland party and the far-right EKRE that gave the three parties a majority in parliament.

Estonia’s next general election is due in March 2023. (Reporting By Andrius Sytas; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Photo Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas attends the European Union leaders face-to-face summit in Brussels, Belgium, 16 October 2020. EPA-EFE/JOHANNA GERON / POOL

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